Interview by Katy Goodman
Images by Teal Thomsen
Videos by Rafiki Tree Productions
“Music is something I'd do every day out of love,
regardless of making it my career. It's one of the things in my life
(in addition to true friendship, the wilderness, and good books)
—Greta Morganthat makes me feel like a happy human being.” — Greta Morgan
LA-based musician and founder of punk/pop project La Sera, which has released 3 studio albums La Sera (2011), Sees the Light (2012), and brand new release Hour of the Dawn (May 2014). La Sera’s lineup also includes Greta Morgan, Todd Wisenbaker & Nate Lotz. Previously, Goodman (who is widely known by the nickname Kickball Katy) was one-third of the Vivian Girls, a Brooklyn-based group that played together from 2009 to 2011.
Greta Morgan / Springtime Carnivore
The one-lady band of Greta Morgan, Springtime Carnivore began in her adopted town of Los Angeles, and channels nostalgia for yesteryear with its fuzzy psychedelic pop. Her debut album, produced by Morgan and Richard Swift (who has worked with the likes of The Black Keys, The Shins, and Foxygen) comes out November 4th.
Katy Goodman: You and I became friends 2 years ago when you moved to LA… and you’re one of my favorite people in the entire world. Are you having a great time in LA?! What’s your favorite thing about living here?
Greta Morgan: There are two things that keep me loving Los Angeles: the people and the weather. I love our friends here and am inspired watching them chase (and catch!) their dreams with such excitement. Also, hiking in all seasons is my favorite. LA is an epicenter to be able to reach all these beautiful wilderness areas very quickly. Yosemite is only a 4 hour drive away and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.
KG: Where are you from?
GM: I was raised in Chicago and New Mexico.
KG: When did you start making music?
GM: As a toddler. I started writing goofy little ditties as a very young kid and just never stopped.
KG: Who did you listen to growing up and who is your music influenced by today?
GM: My dad’s jukebox in our basement was full of Peter Paul and Mary, Dion, Bob Dylan. A lot of beautiful folk and 70’s pop. I lean on very classic songwriting structures, so that’s probably the biggest way they influence what I make now.
Richard Swift is a musician and producer, and also founder, owner, and recording engineer of Oregon-based recording studio National Freedom. As such, he has produced for and played with the indie rock band the Shins, and is the touring bassist and background singer with The Black Keys.
KG: How would you describe your musical genre/style?
GM: Technicolor Daydream Pop. Richard Swift said he thought the songs sounded like, “Waking up from an acid trip and walking around Disney World. You still have that night-time mind, but it’s early morning and everything is bright and colorful.”
The Generationals Alix
The pop duo of New Orleans natives and high school friends Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, who came together as the Generationals in 2007 after college. Their most recent album Alix incorporates 80’s dance music, electronica, and trademark pop vocals.
Blake Mills’ Heigh Ho
The self-named solo project of the LA native Blake Mills, who has played guitar in studio with Neil Young and Pink, and recently released his sophomore album Heigh Ho (2014), a follow-up to his 2010 debut Break Mirrors.
Kevin Morby’s Still Life
Morby is former bassist of Woods and co-founder of The Babies. After embarking on a self-named solo project and relocating from NY to LA, he has released his second album, Still Life (2014).
An annual music festival held in Barcelona, Spain, at Parc del Fòrum in May or June. It is noted for drawing on an eclectic mix of independent artists.
LA-based pop band of sisters Alana, Este, and Danielle Haim and drummer Dash Hutton. Their first studio-album Days Are Gone (2013) catapulted them into public & critical attention, after gaining hype with singles in 2012.
Australian indie musician, who attracted attention with her second EP, How To Carve A Carrot into A Rose (2013). Previously a member of Australian band Immigrant Union, Barnett debuted her solo act in 2012, the year she also founded her own label, Milk! Records.
Jim Harrison’s Wolf
Harrison is a twentieth century poet and novelist who famously wrote about food and the outdoors. His first novel Wolf: A False Memoir (1971) tells of a man who searches for a wolf in Northern Michigan while recounting his life story.
Geoff Emerick’s Here, There, and Everywhere
A British recording studio audio engineer, whose memoir Here, There, and Everywhere, tells of his life recording with the the Beatles for their albums Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, and Abbey Road.
Rollo May’s Love and Will
May is an existential psychologist, whose most renowned book, Love and Will, takes a deep look at relationships as the catalyst for the internal shifts and dilemmas of human behavior.
KG: How and when did you decide that this is what you were going to do?
GM: Music is something I’d do every day out of love, regardless of making it my career. It’s one of the things in my life (in addition to true friendship, the wilderness, and good books) that makes me feel like a happy human being. Every day, we human creatures either step toward being more alive and excited, or else toward becoming slowly numb, complacent, zombified versions of ourselves. Music is like a calibration point for me to gauge that. It keeps me on the right path, or brings me back when I’ve strayed a bit.
I just feel very lucky that the world has supported my habit and encouraged me to keep doing it in this capacity. I feel very lucky.
KG: What’s the story behind the forming of the band and the name Springtime Carnivore?
GM: I was writing in Illinois when a coyote crossed my path and the phrase just rang in my head. I didn’t know it would eventually become the name for the project, but I knew I wanted to use it for something.
KG: How does it feel to have finished your first full length album? What was the process like?
GM: It was the most fun, experimental thing I’ve ever worked on. Some of the album was recorded with Richard Swift in Cottage Grove, Oregon at his National Freedom studio. I love Richard and I imagine everyone instantly loves him the way I did and wants to be his best friend. He has such a unique, creative spirit. We’d listen to records, then record for a few hours, then go eat Mexican food and write jokes.
The rest of the album was recorded myself in my rehearsal space, which is basically like a huge concrete bomb shelter with no internet / cell phones, etc. When I’d go into the space, I’d just work in a trance for a few hours, then leave not knowing what really happened. Then, I’d listen later that day and think, “Oh, wow, there might be a song here!”
“There are two things
that keep me loving Los Angeles:
the people and the weather.”
— Greta Morgan
KG: What’s your favorite album right now?
GM: Blake Mills’ Heigh Ho album is totally stunning. I’ve also been listening to a lot of the artists I’ll play with this year: Generationals album Alix and Kevin Morby’s Still Life are playing a lot lately. And every playlist that ever comes out on Aquarium Drunkard is a soundtrack to my week.
KG: We went to Europe together on tour in May, and it was SO FUN. What is your favorite memory from the trip? Mine is the day we spent wandering around Biarritz…what a great day!
GM: Oh man, that day off in Biarritz was amazing! Biarritz is this little coastal surf town in France that has gorgeous cliffs along the ocean, almost like Big Sur. We arrived on a rainy day when the coast was completely empty and we all walked around in panchos, with umbrellas, feeling like we were the only people in the entire city. The following day was sunny, and we realized what the coast normally looked like — thousands of people walking the boardwalk, dining in the restaurants, and swimming in the water. Then, we recognized how lucky we were to feel like the whole city was ours for that day.
Also, playing Primavera Festival in Barcelona was great. There was a lot of frantically rushing from show to show (we had 3 Primavera shows in 2 days), but the performances were all total adrenaline-rushing-fun. It was also a blast to watch our buddies in Haim playing the huge stage. I can remember seeing those songs performed at their very early shows 2008-9, so it thrilled me to see them playing to thousands of people. Also loved seeing Courtney Barnett, whose record is one of my favorites of the year.
KG: If you could go on tour anywhere in the world next week, where would you want to go?
GM: South America would be amazing. Also, I loved our European tour so much that I’d love to go back and explore some different countries, like Italy and Greece.
KG: What cities/shows are you most excited for on your upcoming tour?
GM: Really excited for the Pacific Northwest and also Chicago. Oh, we also have a show in Madison, Wisconsin on Halloween weekend. Madison has the craziest Halloween festivities of any school, so I’m excited to observe some of the party hysteria.
KG: When we’re not on tour, you love to cook delicious food (you are such a good chef)… what other things do you like to do when you’re home?
GM: Oh man, yeah, tour is a diet of oatmeal and trail mix, so it’s a joy to have a real kitchen!
Last year I built a bunch of guitar amps and microphones. Cigar box amps, shoebox amps. Crafty stuff like that. It was fun recording through them on the album too. I love reading too – lately it’s been Jim Harrison’s Wolf, Geoff Emerick’s Here, There, and Everywhere, and Rollo May’s Love and Will.
KG: What’s next in the wonderful world of Greta Morgan?!
GM: The Springtime Carnivore album will be released November 4th on Autumn Tone and I’ll be touring with Generationals this fall. Looks like there’s a ton of touring coming up in 2015 too, so I’m looking forward to that!